Israel & Palestine

An unequal struggle

In a recent (November) visit to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Hebron, Tiberias, Ramallah, and other points in Israel and the West Bank, I heard it said that a reporter who spends a week on such a tour can write a book on his return. If you stay a month, you may be able to do an article. A year, and you get a major case of writer’s block. Too much complexity, too many contradictions.

Well, I arrived on a Saturday and left on the following Saturday (starting at 2:30 a.m.!), and I could indeed write a book, but only by making unashamed use of all the handouts from various sources that I picked up or were thrust upon me. It might even be a pretty good book, but partisan: All the handouts were pro-Palestinian. So was the sponsor of the tour, the American Committee on Jerusalem, founded and run by Arab-Americans, their answer to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee. And so also most of my companions on the tour: a writer from Sojourners magazine, a TV reporter/producer from PBS’s "Religion and Ethics Newsweekly," an editor of the Christian Century, complete with spouse, a reporter from the Voice of America, an Arab-American retiree from the U.S. State Department, and a former engineer who spends his retirement organizing in Chicago-area churches on behalf of a shared Jerusalem. A most congenial group. Most of us talked mostly or exclusively with Palestinian sources: among others, the grand mufti of...

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About the Author

The late Robert G. Hoyt was senior writer at Commonweal from 1988 to 2002.